The novella Futility, written in 1898 by U.S. writer Morgan Robertson, shows some eerie similarities to the famed story of the sinking of the Titanic, the Associated Press reports. Just how many similarities? Let’s take a look:
Name: In Futility, the boat is described as the largest ship of its day and was called the Titan.
Size: The ships were practically the same size, with the Titanic measuring only 25 meters longer.
Date: Both ships, described as “unsinkable,” hit an iceberg and went under in mid-April.
Speed: Both were capable of speeds over 20 knots.
Safety: Despite having thousands of passengers on board, both ships carried the bare legal minimum number of lifeboats.
These eerie “coincidences” strike most as borderline creepy. But was Robertson really some prescient writer?
Probably not, according to Paul Heyer, a Titanic scholar and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University. Heyer explains how most of the similarities can be explained by looking at the author’s biography.
“He was someone who wrote about maritime affairs,” Heyer said. “He was an experienced seaman, and he saw ships as getting very large and the possible danger that one of these behemoths would hit an iceberg.”
Robertson’s real-life experiences and knowledge of naval trends probably gave him plenty of material for writing accurately about maritime catastrophe.
The novel however, doesn’t focus solely on the Titan. The story’s main focus is a Titan naval officer who finds God, gets the love of his life back and fights alcoholism after the Titan’s sinking. Robertson also throws in some interesting action sequences — like one where the protagonist slays a polar bear to rescue a small child.
After the sinking of the Titanic, Robertson gained great acclaim for being a clairvoyant, a title he denied.
“No,” he would reply. “I know what I’m writing about, that’s all.”
Expert on maritime trends? Absolutely. But realistic polar bear slaying sequences? Maybe not.